For most students, school is back in full swing at this point. I saw on social media that my pharmacy school alma mater had their back to school party last weekend! What fun memories it brought back. I remember the anticipation and excitement of starting school - walking into the unknown and not knowing what to expect. Everyone is kind of checking out everyone else and some people are already developing friendships and getting study partners.

There is so much excitement surrounding the beginning of school and also the wish to make the most of it by making good decisions, etc...How do you do that?

1. Stay organized
Develop a system. Get a planner. Take the time to develop some healthy habits for the new year.
For example, every Monday after class, I go to the library for two hours, every Tuesday and Thursday I get to school early and study for an hour, etc....Plan ahead for projects, tests, celebrations, etc....

2. Study a little more
I was an A student before pharmacy school and for the most part, it came pretty naturally (except for physics and organic chemistry)! When I got to pharmacy school, however, I had to put in a lot more time studying. I'm confident that I could have turned some of those B's to A's had I had a little system in place when things got tough. 

There was so much more material covered on exams, it would have been hard to study for an exam in just one weekend. Usually, two weeks of studying a little every day was good enough to get a good grade. What helped the most was reading over my notes after each class- it solidifies material that is already fresh.

3. Pick a new thing
It's good to have a hobby outside of your studies. It could be pharmacy-related like being active in an organization or non-pharmacy related like a monthly book club, a running club, or photography class.
I did a dual MBA program in pharmacy school and despite the extra work, I loved it and thrived. It was nice to have a balance and something outside of just pharmacy. It also is easier to focus when studying when you aren't so burnt out.

4. Make it routine
Make other decisions easy for yourself so that you still have the motivation left when it comes to studying. This sounds boring but try to wake up at the same time every day, wear roughly the same thing (tshirts and jeans), eat the same thing for lunch, etc.... You don't want to waste all of your brain power taking an hour to decide which outfit to wear or what restaurant to go to. And if you'd rather not do things like that, at least set out your clothes and make your lunch the night before. 

5. Know yourself
Grad school is also a personal journey where you are pushed to your limits both mentally, emotionally and physically. Knowing the self-care you need (know when to take a break or take time for yourself), your study style, and how much sleep you need will really help you in your journey. 

And don't forget that life happens! Family emergencies come up, some people are working and/or supporting families while in school, and some times you just need a break. Don't be too hard on yourself and remember your purpose. You are doing this for you, your career, and your personal growth. Just do your best!

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PracticeJoanna Simmon